Okay, so I got all excited about spring last week, and look at us now! Snowy, snowy, snowy…its beginning to look a lot like…..Easter? Oh well —
But, we can still get to a little farming. You can do so easily, gain some extra nutrition, and have some fun – all by yourself, or involving your roommates, spouse, or kiddos — with kitchen counter farming!
This is on the incredibly small-scale side of farming.
Choose your crop, and gather your supplies:
Sprouting Seeds and Beans:
– an empty pint or quart jar
– a bit of mesh or tulle, if you’ve got it (don’t run out to Hobby Lobby in the blizzard, you can do this without mesh)
– some beans or seeds – I recommend green lentils, or a seed sprouting mix, like the one sold by Azure Standard (make a free, no-obligation account, and you’ll see how much things cost). You could pretty much use any kind of dried bean, though. Here’s a handy chart to help you decide (the top has a sprouting method, chart is at the bottom).
1. Soak the beans or seeds in lukewarm water. Plan on using double the amount of water than seeds. Let them sit on a warmish, sunny-ish countertop for 6-8 hours, or start this after supper and leave it out overnight.
2. Empty the water out in the morning (preferably into your houseplants, or even into your lunch soup-kettle – this is nutrient-rich water, and you don’t have to just dump it down the drain!) If using mesh, attach to the top of your jar now with a rubberband or piece of string. Rinse the seeds/beans 2 – 3 times with cool clean water. Shake the beans until the majority of the water is gone. *If you’re not using mesh, just do the rinsing carefully so you don’t lose a lot of the beans. If you’re using tiny seeds, like alfalfa, mesh won’t really work. Maybe cheesecloth or a small square of flour sack dish towel.
3. Put your beans/seeds inside the cupboard, and proceed to monitor daily, rinsing as in step two, until the seeds/beans have sprouted to the desired length – generally about 1/2 to 1 inch – check the chart in the preceeding link.
This takes 2 – 3 days, all depending upon the kind of seed you’ve chosen. When sprouted to the desired length, transfer them to the fridge, as you don’t want them to grow any further — and you want them to stay fresh. Plan to use them within a week – but the sooner the better for freshness, taste, and nutrition!
Uses: Add in the last minutes to soup, add to sandwiches, eat a handful as you walk by in the kitchen. All the immense start up nutrients of the seeds are concentrated in these sprouts – they are the perfect awaiting-spring treat to restore your body. They have a nutty crunch that is very good to chase away the afternoon munchies.
Microgreens – teeny, tiny mini-lettuce. How cute can you get?
Here’s a new project I’m getting going on my counter right now. I had some planters with annual flowers that I just shoved into the porch late this fall. I’m going to reuse a bit of it.
– an empty plastic salad shell, or other plastic container, You could probably use an egg carton, too.
– enough dirt to fill your dish of choice to the top cover the bottom with about 1 to 1 1/2 inches
– some lettuce seeds you have left over from last year, or consider ordering some from St Clare’s – you’ll get ’em pretty fast. They have some great lettuce blends.
Punch some holes in the bottom of your container for drainage. Put your dirt in the bottom, saving aside about a 1/2 c. Put the seeds on top. Very lightly dust the seeds with the remaining dirt. Get a cup of water, and using your fingertips, dip them in the water and flick them all over the seeds, until its nice and moist. It doesn’t need too much water. Pretend you’re one of those annoying kids at the pool flicking water on other kids.
Put the cover over the top, and let it sit in a sunny-ish spot until the greens sprout. Consider putting in an army guy or lego minifigure, and make believe you’re an Army of One mini-farmer, and enjoying a bountiful winter harvest.
When you’ve had enough of that or its been about 2 weeks, or your microgreens are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall, clear-cut them and put them on sandwiches, in soups, make a salad solely of them, or pair them with a with a ‘mature’ salad, or just pop in your mouth. You might swish them in a colander and rinse them first.
For some more info, check out this great tutorial on countertop gardening by yougrowgirl.com. Great pictures there as well.
I’ll post a photo when my Black-seeded Simpson Lettuce has sprouted – cowabunga, dude.